The other day, I walked into the dorm lounge to find six or seven of my friends sitting together in absolute silence, eyes downcast, each and every one of them completely absorbed in their cell phone. I was only mildly horrified when they all answered my "What are you doing?" with a unanimous "Tinder."
How is it that even in a group setting, our social lives have been reduced to staring at a two by four inch screen? The average college student spends about nine hours on their cell phone every day -- here are a couple of reasons why you should be putting your phone away for at least a couple of those hours.
1. You can't swipe right on true love
In a world that values fast service, it makes sense that Tinder appeals to many consumers -- it takes the anxiety and uncertainty out of meeting someone new and lets you decide if you're genuinely interested in someone before you even have to meet face to face, which is arguably a timesaver.
The problem with this approach, however, is that it narrows down the pool of people you're selecting from to only those you find physically attractive, and it makes you pretty picky, on top of that. It's somewhat discouraging to watch over a friend's shoulder as they swipe left on a perfectly nice-looking girl because "the last girl was way hotter."
It is a scientifically proven fact that humans need face-to-face contact -- as a species, we are wired to read each other's facial expressions and body language at an almost subconscious level. Dating apps like Tinder take these subtle cues out of social interaction.
I still believe in the power of personality, and I just don't think you can get to know someone all that well over the Internet. My advice? Put the phone down and start talking to the people around you, like that cute boy who sits two seats down from you in chemistry. The interpersonal skills you learn from face-to-face interaction will serve you much better in the future, especially when you're trying to build relationships with a potential boss; you can't swipe right on that recruiter from Lockheed Martin.
2. Facebook is blue, and it'll make you blue too
Many recent studies have shown that Facebook can cause depression. While it's been touted as a great way to stay in touch with old friends, I know for a fact that most of the people I'm "friends" with on Facebook are people I haven't spoken to at least since freshman year of high school. Oftentimes, Facebook does a better job of lowering your self-esteem than it does helping you connect with people.
The major problem with Facebook is that it's just that -- a book. It's the story of people's lives as told through status updates, photos, and timelines, and many people heavily edit their stories to show only those things they want other people to see. As a result, we often log on to see all of our friends having a fabulous time -- out to dinner, partying with cute guys, or relaxing on vacation -- all while we're eating Doritos in our pajamas in a darkened room. It isn't difficult to see how that can be a bit of a downer.
Even worse, Facebook can cause extreme cases of "fear of missing out", where you start worrying about missing out on all of the wonderful things that everyone else in your life seems to be doing. Of course, the probability that all of your Facebook friends are living the dream all of the time is pretty low. It's far more likely that many of them are also huddled up with their snack food of choice, jealously scrolling through their friends' posts on Facebook.
My recommendation for avoiding the depressive spiral of FOMO that is staring at Facebook: if you're worried about missing out, then go out! Tag along to a mixer, go see an acapella concert, or take that hike around campus that everyone says is so great. And if you really want to make everyone else jealous, then you can post about it on Facebook.
3. YouTube doesn't compare to the real thing
The other night, I went to see a student production of Pippin with my roommate. While the plot was not quite as lighthearted as I'd expected, the show itself was amazing. The lead character was an absolutely phenomenal singer, and the entire cast was incredible talented and delightful to watch.
Unfortunately, the audience was almost completely made up of community members and older families, with very few college students to be seen. Given the amount of media content we consume each day (there are 4 billion video views per day on YouTube), it seems amazing that the interest in live performances among college students is so low. The fact of the matter is, while that video of a fox on a trampoline is cute, it is hardly worth watching in comparison to seeing the talents of fellow students.
As Gandalf told Bilbo Baggins, "the world is not in your maps and books." Our world too, does not exist within the pixels on our cell phone screens. So turn off your computer right now and go out and really experience college. After all, you only get four years in college, but the Internet is forever.